Tu B’ Shevat. What Jewish holiday is this?

Posted by: Stacey Herman on Monday, January 14, 2013 at 2:00:00 pm

What is Tu B’Shevat anyway?

Tu B’ Shevat.  What Jewish holiday is this?  Can we eat bread?  Turn on lights?  Do we repent?  Give presents?

Tu B’Shevat, aka New Year of the Trees is a holiday where many people focus on the environment, planting trees and cleaning up neighborhoods.  There is nothing in the Torah about this holiday, and no right way to celebrate it.  It is springtime in Israel and trees are beginning to blossom. Tu B'Shevat is the New Year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing.  It is celebrated as an agricultural holiday. 

  1. Kabbalists thought of the world as being made up of four things: Earth, Water, Air, Fire. Tu BShevat
  2. Kabbalists thought of humans as being made up of four things: Body, Heart/Feeling, Mind/Though, Spirit.
  3. There are four seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall.

Do you see where I am going with this?  At a Tu B’Shevat seder we drink four glasses of wine representing the aforementioned four things.  We also eat fruit that is grown on trees in Israel, fruit such as grapes, olives, dates, figs and pomegranates.

What can you do with children on this holiday?

  1. Plant parsley, which will then be ready to use at Passover!
  2. Taste different fruits grown in Israel.
  3. Clean up your neighborhood.
  4. Plant a tree in Israel.  Jewish National Fund has information about this.
  5. Color pictures of trees
  6. Make a bird feeder
  7. Read stories about trees and the earth

So, if you like to drink wine, eat fruit, plant trees and sing songs, this is the holiday for you.


Come and join our JCC at our Tu B’Shevat/Shabbat dinner on Friday January 25th at 6PM and see what it’s all about. Call the front desk at the JCC for information or to register. I look forward to seeing you!


Shalom Stacey




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